At the tender age of 12, Mr Benjamin Lee heard God’s call to missions. It is little surprise that his favourite Bible passage is Matthew 28:18-20 where Jesus proclaimed the Great Commission, to “go and make disciples of all nations”.
This conviction took him to Cambodia in early 2012, together with his wife Serene and four children Zachary Asher (12), Zoe Nicole (9), Ephraim Joseph (7) and Elizabeth Joy (5). In July 2014, Benjamin joined the Methodist School of Cambodia (MSC) in Phnom Penh and officially became its Principal on 1 Aug 2014.
Youth have long held a special place in Benjamin’s heart. He has served God faithfully in the youth ministry since he was 13, as a youth leader at Toa Payoh Chinese Methodist Church and later full-time for six and a half years as a youth pastor with Full Gospel Assembly (FGA). At FGA, he met Serene, who was also serving in the youth ministry.
Three years after their marriage in mid-2000, Benjamin enrolled in TCA College. At the Bible school, they were assigned to be Missions Directors for three years. For two years, Benjamin continued to disciple youth from FGA’s Chinese congregation.
After graduating from TCA College with a Bachelor of Arts in Missions in 2006, Benjamin started a small company dealing in recycled computer parts with the intention of providing employment for delinquents from Singapore Boys’ Home. He had, after all, worked at Seagate Technology as an assistant engineer for more than a year after completing National Service.
Sensing God’s leading, Benjamin and his family left FGA in 2008 to join Covenant Evangelical Free Church (CEFC). CEFC (Woodlands Centre) remains their home church in Singapore. At CEFC, they served in the Children’s Ministry worship for a year and in 2011, started a Filipino fellowship together with some Filipino friends. At the same time, Benjamin and Serene initiated a workshop in Changi Prison to help inmates develop skills and used it as a platform for disciple-making.
Ever ready for God to use him, Benjamin went to Cambodia in 2012 because God said, “This is the time.”
In Phnom Penh, while Benjamin serves as MSC Principal, Serene assists in an international school which they helped start. This school aims to provide affordable education for missionaries serving in Cambodia as well as to be a platform for outreach to children of the many Chinese nationals residing in Phnom Penh.
Among the challenges of being in Cambodia are communication and differences in work culture. Trying to find time to learn the Khmer language is difficult, particularly since both work in English-medium schools. Benjamin is also learning to shed the Singaporean work mentality and to adjust to the local working style while not compromising work quality and standards. He is learning to depend on God for wisdom and guidance when approaching the locals for specific tasks.
The cost of four children attending the international school is another area for which they are trusting in God’s providence. Benjamin has gone out into the field believing that missions is a mandate for everyone. For him, missions is not bounded by countries. Rather, missions is bringing the message of the Kingdom to whoever God directs us to. Quoting John Piper’s “Missions exists because worship doesn’t”, it is Benjamin’s firm conviction that “we must be ready for God to use us anytime and anywhere”.
- for God’s strength for Serene and Benjamin to depend on God’s wisdom and direction in all they do and not be discouraged,
- for unity with people with whom they work,
- for God’s providence to meet their monthly needs,
- that their children will not feel lack of anything while in Cambodia and that they will see themselves as instruments for God’s service,
- for the salvation of MSC’s teachers who are non-believers,
- that MSC students will not see their weekly Christian Education class as a ritual and will find God through these classes,
- for opportunities for missionaries from Methodist Missions Society involved in the School Ministry to speak life into the students, and
- for the upcoming Christmas programme to be meaningful and have impact.
Tan Chiu Ai volunteers as Sub-editor with Methodist Message. She adapted this article from an interview with Mr Benjamin Lee published in the August 2015 issue of Harvest Force, the official publication of Methodist Missions Society, which was used with permission.